Darwin battles to secure Fenn Wright Manson survival

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The Independent Online

Fenn Wright Manson, the premium women's fashion chain, is battling to safeguard its future just 17 months after it was acquired by a private equity firm.

The retailer, which has 17 shops and scores of concessions in department stores, is working with a team at the restructuring specialist Zolfo Cooper to explore a number of options.

Four of Fenn Wright Manson's directors, Anju Mahbubani, Patrick Hollwey, Sharon Jones and Claire Lawrence, left the business recently.

Darwin Private Equity acquired Fenn Wright Manson, which has 400 staff, on 1 October 2010. The deal saw the only remaining founder, Colin Fenn, leave. The fashion group's performance has recently deteriorated.

It is thought the idea of putting Fenn Wright Manson into administration has been floated, if it cannot deliver a rescue plan such as fresh funding.

The retailer, Zolfo Cooper and Darwin declined to comment last night.

Fenn Wright Manson's pre-tax profits fell by 58 per cent to just £864,213 for the year to 31 January 2011. The retailer, which has concessions in John Lewis and House of Fraser, grew turnover by 15 per cent to £26.35m.